Evolving the Alien

Authors: Jack Cohen & Ian Stewart
Ebury Press
RRP 17.99
ISBN 0 0918 7927 2
Available now

Mankind is surrounded by aliens, living creatures you never thought could exist. Some of them even live in what we call uninhabitable zones on earth. So what makes so many scientists think there cannot be life in uninhabitable zones in other parts of the universe? Who knows - aliens might watch us and our planet and wonder how anything can live in all that oxygen...

Evolving the Alien is a clever idea. There are hundreds of books out there that look at the possibility of existence of sentient live on far off worlds, but I have not come across one before that concentrates entirely on trying to prove that alien life forms can exist anywhere and everywhere. This angle also makes our quest for extra terrestrial life forms more desperate. It's as though authors have given up on the hope of finding proof of other life form existing on Earth like planets and are instead starting to wonder if there could be life anywhere.

The authors also attack previous sceptical works that suggest - because of the number of different things which needed to happen to kick-start life on this planet, as well as the number of different things that need to be in place to ensure life continues to thrive - that there is very little chance of us finding proof of other worlds with intelligent life any time soon. The authors of Evolving the Alien state there could very well be life not too far away from our own planet.

One problem with this work is that it is pure speculation from beginning to end and, while it uses creatures from this planet as examples of what could be out there (creatures which are born pregnant, some that have 20 different sexes and a species which can survive without water for a quarter of a billion years), they are forgetting that they do live on Earth and so the atmosphere that sustains us also helps to sustain them. Would they be able to live on the Moon?

Despite this very large hole in the whole argument this book is fascinating reading, just don't take it too seriously.

Darren Rea

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